With every aspect of the insurance process being increasingly scrutinised, revamped and updated, things like claims automation have steadily gained more and more traction within the market.
Australian company Nearmap chose this time to enter the New Zealand market, and executive vice president Shane Preston sat down with Insurance Business to talk about how its aerial imagery could help insurers at every stage of the process, from risk assessment to claims processing.
“Insurers currently use Nearmap for overall portfolio risk assessment, both residential and commercial,” said Preston. “It can also be used in the underwriting process for residential properties, and will be able to show you if there have been any changes to the property – an extension put in, a new pool constructed, etc. You’re essentially able to do a virtual site visit, and we can show you exactly what’s happening on the ground in very high resolution.”
“It’s also useful in terms of claims, if there has been a weather event and someone claims for a certain amount of damage,” he explained. “Nearmap allows you to compare images before and after the event, and to identify whether or not the damage was already there beforehand. Our content can be used all the way through the process, and insurers have immediate access to high-quality aerial maps from their desks.”
Nearmap uses light-wing aircraft to continuously fly over urban regions and create an ongoing library of content - the New Zealand content currently dates back to 2017. Customers can compare current images to previous records to observe any changes, and can also take accurate measurements of distance. Content is updated on a yearly basis, but, according to Preston, the team also responds to weather events as soon as is practicable.
The company has been operating in Australia for approximately 10 years and has more than 7,500 customers, a significant chunk of which are within the insurance sector. According to customer feedback, the product has increased process efficiency by about 25-30%.
“Our customers tell us that Nearmap eliminates up to 80% of unnecessary site visits,” Preston stated. “In certain circumstances there is naturally still a need to conduct a visit - internal damage, for example, is something you can’t see from the sky. But it does allow an insurance company to observe damage very quickly and process claims, and that has a direct impact on customer experience.
“The accuracy of identifying the truth on the ground is a key concern for the insurance industry, and that’s what we can provide.”